Bursary opportunity for talented #creatives from Luton + the region in the refurbished Hat Factory arts centre

Your Space

Hat Factory Arts Centre Creative Bursary 2019-20

Closing date for applications Friday 5th April 2019 at midday

We welcome visual artists and makers living or working in Luton and the surrounding counties to make an Expression of Interest for our new 12 month bursary scheme at the newly refurbished Hat Factory Arts Centre in Luton’s Hat District.  We are a cultural charity called Luton Culture and the aim of this scheme is to enable artists/makers the time and space to consider and develop their practice, whilst contributing to the animation and creative offer of the Hat Factory. 

Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton with ‘Beacon’ by Mark Titchner

Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton with ‘Beacon’ by Mark Titchner

1. Introduction

Luton Culture is an independent arts and cultural charity that produces and presents year round programmes across our theatres, museums, art centre, gardens, historic hat factories and network of libraries.   We welcome local and regional users across our 15 venues and we invite the wider international community to engage with Luton, which is an incredibly diverse and stimulating town. We actively commission artists, public at and collaborate to produce and co-produce new work. We are currently engaging in a £10m capital programme to transform three old hat factories into vibrant creative workspaces in the Hat District. The Hat Factory Arts Centre is part of this network of creative and cultural spaces which will provide clear pathways for anyone with a skill, talent or passion for arts and culture to progress.

The Hat Factory closed its doors in April 2018 for a 16 month refurbishment programme. When it re-opens in late-Summer 2019 everyone will be welcome, but especially young people aged 11-25, creative and digital industries, entrepreneurs, students, graduates, artists and creative practitioners.

Period of Delivery

Summer 2019 – Spring 2020

Bursary Award


Closing date for expression of interest

Friday 5th  April 2019


The Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton

2. Artist/maker role

You will have a visual presence in The Hat Factory with a dedicated studio space to develop your own practice. Your practice should ideally be experimental and test new technologies and approaches to the visual arts, compliment and add value to the Hat Factory Art Centre’s programme, engaging the interest of our target demographics - specifically young people aged 16-25 and diverse audiences.

It is envisaged that there will be 3 stages to the bursary during the year:

Develop – time for you to consider your next steps in your creative practice and to plan and prepare to move your ideas forward (up to 3 months)

Deliver – a period of public facing activity where you can work on your own practice but also deliver activities and engaging opportunities for the public (6 -7 months)

Disseminate – time towards the end of the bursary year to reflect and prepare to share your experiences though a public presentation or showcase (2-3 months)

The Bursary is designed to give you time to predominantly develop your own work but you will also be asked to support the following initiatives of the Trust:

  • Proactively engage with and promote positive interactions with Hat Factory visitors and staff team.

  • Propose and deliver aspects of a public facing programme in Hatch 1 or 2 with consideration of our target audiences. This will equate to 24 days over 12 months, equivalent to 2 days per month.

  • Develop and establish regular creative activities or clubs at Hatch 1 or 2 for young people.

  • Act as an advocate for Luton Culture’s local, national and international ambitions and engage as a member of its Alumni network informing our legacy.

  • Immerse themselves in our ambitions of widening reach and inspiring, encouraging and nurturing skills and talent development. This may include supporting networking events, industry talks and sharing experiences and practice.

  • Maximise the use of the space and opportunity throughout the year and establish a longer term connection and relationship with Luton Culture beyond the residency (associate artist scheme/ongoing programme/mentor)

  • Consider creative platforms for sharing their work and residency experience with wider audiences - local, regional, national, international (assistance from our in-house marketing team will be provided)

  • Develop a showcase for the public that encapsulates the achievements from the bursary experience near the end of the 12 month period.

We will provide you with:

Free studio space for 12 months. Studio Size – 226 sq ft (width- 3250mm x 5700mm length, head clearance to 2500mm) available for use during Hat Factory opening hours 8am to 6pm from September 2019 the space is set up flexibly for the artist/maker to establish for their own way of working. An artist sink (with special trap) and storage for special or hazardous materials located across the hall from the studio.

A financial bursary award of £8000 to support the development of your practice. The award will be made on the basis of a schedule agreed between the artist and Luton Culture as part of the bursary agreement. We will expect you to be self-employed. We appreciate that you may have work/family/care/other commitments and holidays during the bursary year but we have an expectation that you will be at the Arts Centre most days of the week for most of the year.  You will be asked to outline your time-commitment to the bursary in your application. We do not expect exclusivity during the period of the bursary.

Opportunities to showcase your work: Programming and promotional opportunities for the public to engage with your work in two education/skills space in the arts centre called Hatch 1 and Hatch 2. We also have theatre, comedy bar, flat-floor multipurpose and music venue and digital showroom window, retail opportunities, installation spaces and gallery to present your work.

Promotion:  We will support in developing an online method for promoting and sharing your bursary experience and reach wider audiences.

Additional Artist-led work: Opportunities for you to contribute across all Luton Culture sites (potentially through additional paid opportunities in running workshops and events.

Support: We will provide you with a detailed induction into the organisation ensuring that you connect with the creative community locally and regionally. The Bursary scheme will be managed by the Head of Arts and Cultural Programmes. The day-to-day point of contact for programme matters will be The Hat Factory Programmer at Luton Culture. Regular reviews and updates will be scheduled during the year to support you and enable planning and delivery of the scheme

Accessible facilities - The bursary space is located on the 1st floor of The Hat Factory, the space is accessible by a lift and an accessible toilet is also on the same floor. The Hatch 1 activity space where most of the public facing activity will take place is next door to the bursary studio. There is also a prayer room on the same landing. 

If you are interested in applying for the ‘Your Space’ bursary please note that you will need to be able to start the bursary scheme in the Summer of 2019 when the Hat Factory Arts Centre will reopen to the public.

3. How you can apply

To make an expression of interest for this opportunity please submit the following:

1.       Completed  pro forma application (appendix 1)

2.       Up to 4 examples of your work with information  (max. 2 sides of A4)

3.       Current Curriculum Vitae

Please also note that you will need to: 

  • Have public liability insurance.

  • Comply with Luton Cultures Safeguarding Policy and may be required to undertake a DBS check. The cost of this will be met by Luton Culture.

4.  How will we make a selection

 Expressions of interest will be considered against the following criteria:

Assessment Criteria

Quality of work (40%)

  • Statement of your art form/practice (15%)

  • Examples of work (15%)

  • CV (10%)

Approach to bursary (60%)

  • Statement of your ambitions for utilising the time the bursary offer (30%)

  • Approach to engagement and example activity for target audiences (30%)

5.   Dates and deadlines

Closing date for applications

Friday 5th April at midday


During the week of the 8th April


During the week of the 22nd April

Planning and preparations – develop and agree activities as part of Hatch1/2 public programme

May 2019

Public launch of Hat Factory

September 2019

Start of bursary – in studio and programme delivery

Summer 2019 (subject to build programme)